Help with SW Colorado itinerary

Mar 13th, 2019, 05:52 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 3
Help with SW Colorado itinerary

Hi, looking for some feedback on my family vacation itinerary. My wife and I, with our two children, 6 and 8, are heading to SW Colorado in July for 9 days. We will be flying in and out of Denver.

Here is what I have come up with so far based on my internet research:

Day 1: Fly in to Denver @10AM, Drive I-70W to US-50S and stay in Montrose (2 nights)
Day 2: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Day 3: Drive Million dollar highway, stay at Far View Lodge, Mesa Verde (2 nights)
Day 4: tour Mesa Verde
Day 5: Mesa Verde or hiking, stay in Durango (2 nights)
Day 6: Durango Railroad
Day 7: Chimney Rock, stay in Alamosa or Monte Vista (1 night)
Day 8: Great Sand Dunes, stay in Salida or Buena Vista (1 night)
Day 9: Drive to Denver and fly home

I know that there is going to be a lot of driving so I have tried to spread it out the best I can. I thought about splitting the driving on Day 1 into two days to get to Montrose but we think it would be worth it to stay in the same place for two nights instead of hotel hopping.

Does this seem reasonable? Am I missing anything?
scott6k is offline  
Mar 13th, 2019, 07:50 PM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 296
One night in Montrose should be adequate to see Black Canyon. I would use that second night in Ouray, Telluride or Durango.
The Million Dollar Highway is only the stretch of the San Juan Byway between Ouray and Silverton which takes you out of the way if your next stop is Mesa Verde. That stretch of highway is not the most enjoyable drive with its hairpin curves, no shoulder and steep drop offs especially going south and after our big snow season which has further damaged the road. You would be better to turn at Ridgeway and head down to Mesa Verde via Placerville and Dolores.
There are many outstanding hikes within 25 miles north of Durango.
Consider riding the bus back to Durango after riding the train to Silverton. Riding the train both directions makes for a very long day.
Another option is to ride the train to Tree Tops zipline and ride the train back. It's a package offered by DSNGR. They also offer packages with train one day and a jeep ride or raft trip the next day.
bailey123 is offline  
Mar 14th, 2019, 08:34 AM
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Thanks for the reply.

We definitely will plan on a one-way train ride and busing back to Durango.

I do see that driving from Ridgeway to Durango is out of the way compared to the route you mention, but I was under the impression that Ouray to Silverton was a "not to be missed" drive. Are you suggesting driving to Ouray and then turning around and heading back to Ridgeway?
scott6k is offline  
Mar 14th, 2019, 09:03 AM
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I was under the impression that Ouray to Silverton was a "not to be missed" drive.

It certainly isn't for me. It can be a very daunting drive, and the driver must concentrate on the road so won't see much of the scenery anyway.

One of my favorite CO drives (and I live here) is the 10 miles between Ouray and Ridgway.
Melnq8 is online now  
Mar 14th, 2019, 06:15 PM
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Maybe staying in Gunnison the first night and then Ouray or Telluride the second night would be better then?
scott6k is offline  
Mar 14th, 2019, 08:51 PM
Join Date: Mar 2013
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Staying in Montrose rather than Gunnison would split up your drive time better and Montrose is about an hour drive time closer to Black Canyon but either town works. You're not backtracking much to visit Ouray then go back to Ridgeway; it's only about 15 minutes.

The section of Red known as Million Dollar Highway is often listed as one of the scariest roads in the country. I'm sure you can find a YouTube video of the drive, then you can judge for yourself. The route between Ridgeway and Telluride is actually prettier than Red, IMO. I live in Durango and have driven Red more times than I can count but especially after the avalanches and rock slides that we have had over the last 6 months, I can say that I would not want to be driving southbound this summer. There will be slow motorhome traffic, road construction and very bad road. Last summer and fall they actually closed the entire road several times for hours at a time so if you still want to go that route, check for road conditions before you go further south than Ouray.
bailey123 is offline  
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